Well we were certainly surprised by the arrival of our boy, Connor, four weeks early! I had just finished a routine midwife appointment where we had reviewed my birth plan and where she had quickly checked the positioning of baby in my tummy. I remember thinking during the check that it felt quite uncomfortable to have her pressing down on my pelvic area, which was odd as I had never found it uncomfortable in previous checkups.
We arrived home about 30 minutes later and all of a sudden my waters broke all over my hallway floor, just as I was taking off my coat! I asked the typical “did I wee myself??” Question to my partner, but we quickly realised that was in fact, not the case. Luckily a few days prior, we had finished fitting the car seat and packing our hospital bags. We called the maternity assessment unit who said to come down to be checked, and to bring our hospital bags… just in case. We were fully aware that my waters had broken, but we were convinced I wasn’t in labour… it was too early!
When we arrived at the maternity assessment unit, we waited about two hours to be checked over. When the doctor arrived, he did a quick swab of my vagina and confirmed that waters had broken and that I was already 2cm dilated. At this point I had very mild cramping in my lower back, similar to mild period cramps. I attached a TENs machine to help ease the discomfort, and they put me on an IV drip. I was quickly moved to the delivery suite. Within about twenty minutes the cramps had intensified, but they were completely manageable with the TENs machine. I spent the next two and a half hours on a yoga ball, lightly bouncing and working the TENs machine with every contraction. I listened hypnobirthing meditations between the contractions. As the contractions intensified, I began to use gas and air which helped me focus even more on my breathing techniques used in a prenatal yoga class. My partner was very supportive and ensured I had a quiet, dimly lit environment in which to focus on my breathing and meditation techniques. A few weeks prior, I had introduced him to a few hypnobirthing tracks, so he understood the type of environment in which I wanted to give birth.
After the two and a half hours I asked the midwife if I would be allowed to have an epidural. The pain was manageable, but I was becoming quite exhausted! She agreed and said that before having one I would need to be examined by the doctor. The examination was very quick, and the doctor announced that I didn’t need the epidural because I was already 10cm and would be ready to push soon! Once I began pushing, I used the intensity of the contractions to assist with the pushing, and I no longer needed the TENs machine or the gas and air.
After about an hour of pushing, the doctor checked me again and said that unfortunately the baby had not moved downwards at all, and that he was back to back, therefore making it harder on his skull, which was beginning to swell. The doctor recommended that I have either forceps or a c-section. For personal reasons I am very against instrumental deliveries, so I said I would prefer a c-section. The doctor seemed surprised by this, and said once they got me into the operating room, they would examine me again and we could discuss the two options once more before making a final decision.
I was quickly wheeled to the operating room, and I remember once we went through the doors that I was really upset and disappointed in myself that I couldn’t give birth naturally, and that I didn’t want my baby being born into such a bright and sterile environment – it was not what I pictured at all and was certainly not part of my birth plan! However, a friend of mine had told me a few days prior “control what you can, and let go of what you can’t. Make those experiences that you can’t control as positive as possible. Your mindset and attitude is what you can control in those situations”. This massively helped me in those scary few moments prior to surgery.
Once in the operating room the doctor confirmed that a C-section would be the best option as baby was still too far up the birth canal for even a forceps delivery. My partner left the room while they prepped me for surgery. I was really nervous to have an epidural, but I barely felt anything going into my back – it simply felt like someone scratching me with their nails. The freezing took seconds to work and before I knew it my partner was back and they said that they were all ready to begin the operation. Within minutes we heard the cries of our new baby boy, and we were just so happy and relieved. I didn’t feel anything during the process of them opening me up and taking baby out, and I only felt slight pressure and pulling when they were stitching me back up. Once Connor was quickly checked over by the doctors he was placed on my chest or skin to skin and after a few minutes my partner than held him and experience skin to skin as well.
I was quite lucky in that I found my recovery to be very easy and straightforward. I only felt slight discomfort for the first two days after surgery but I was really good at keeping on top of my pain medication. I would recommend for anyone having a C-section that they must fully listen to the midwives in terms of what to do for a successful recovery. When the midwives tell you to get up and walk around, do it! When the midwives tell you to try to wee or have a bowel movement, do it! So many women in recovery with me were too scared to get up and walk around so quickly after surgery, or were too scared to go to the toilet and this meant that their discomfort level became quite intense quite quickly. Many ended up being in severe pain and as a result had to have a huge amount of pain medication pumped into them and had to stay in the hospital much longer than needed. As scary as it is, moving around and going to the toilet when they tell you to massively helps speed up recovery.
Overall my birth experience was extremely positive even though it was not even close to the birth I had imagined. I feel very lucky to have had a quick labour, and even though it resulted in a C-section I am grateful that I was able to experience active labour and the process of pushing. I truly believe that techniques and movements learnt in my prenatal yoga class, as well as breathing exercises learnt in Hypnobirthing audio clips are what made my experience so positive. I used the techniques throughout the entire process, starting with my water breaking and up until the end of when I was being stitched up.
It is now four weeks after Connors birth and we are loving every second of this newborn stage, especially all of the lovely cuddles! I am already so looking forward to being pregnant again One day and giving Connor a little sibling.